These warriors were all highlanders, and they were good at trekking through deep mountains and dense forests. With two mages guiding the way, they avoided the scouting riders sent by Salem and entered the hinterland of the Plains of Duc. The unexplored area of the Plains of Duc was huge, and many places were still undeveloped wilderness, so it was hard to find a small force of a hundred sneaking in.
It was not known how, but the team managed to find out the exact route and time where the Ducians were moving. One evening, under the escort of the guards from Salem, the Ducians had just set up camp and placed the gold plate inside the tent with the golden top. As they made their prayers before dinner, a group of highlanders with swords and spears suddenly appeared from the forest in a military formation.
The men were large and grim-faced, with heavy and sharp weapons in their hands. One of them shouted: “Where are the miners from Duc? Come out obediently and go back with me, and you can still live!”
The captain from Salem broke out in cold sweat. The well-trained highlanders have always been terrifying warriors on the battlefield, and these people were obviously not explorers in the wilderness or ordinary bandits. The battle power of such a military formation is far from being comparable to that of a rabble.
The enemy was disguised as hunters and numbered a hundred, while on this side, the captain only had twelve soldiers with him, so winning was virtually impossible. Furthermore, the enemy had two mages with them. With the support of magic, a military formation was capable of fighting much more effectively, especially military mages who have been specially trained to work together with the soldiers.
This captain used to be a member of Lynk’s tribe and had followed Amon in the mountains to hunt. After training for many years, he was now a third-level warrior. He was a brave man and did not panic too much at the dire situation, but simply said to Joshua quietly with a slightly trembling voice: “I will gather my soldiers to charge at the enemy, use this opportunity to take as many people as you can to escape to Salem. You must report what happened here to Lord Aesop.”
Joshua said in a solemn voice: “It may not be impossible to fight.”
The captain stomped his foot as he replied: “Those are highlanders, and all of them have great innate strength! Furthermore, they are not a wandering tribe but a trained military force. If we don’t run away, we will only be wiped out!”
Joshua: “There are more of them, and we cannot escape in this wilderness.”
The leader of the twelve Judges, Othniel, came over and said: “Captain Decker, gather your team to protect that large tent and the people in it, and leave those enemy soldiers to us.”
Captain Decker stared at Othniel in surprise and said: “You guys?”
Othniel nodded. “Yes, we will take care of them.”
Koria was a noble warrior, and it was not easy for a highlander like him to achieve noble status. He came from a family of highlanders who had been living in the Assyrian kingdom for three generations, and his family had achieved nobility because of his grandfather’s military merits. When he became an adult, Koria joined the Giant Legion and became the personal guard of the Head of Legion, Felix. Later on, he rose to the position of captain of the infantry regiment.
This time, the Giant Legion was sent to the south of Syah Plateau. While crossing the desolate and treacherous mountains, Koria was full of doubts about the king’s order. Why was he sending the kingdom’s most elite legion to such an undeveloped area with nothing but a wilderness? It was difficult to supply logistics for such a difficult march, and only a kingdom was capable of organizing such a long-distance migration.
He finally realized what all this was about when he reached the Plains of Duc, a land so vast, rich, and waiting to be reclaimed and occupied. If annexed in its entirety, it would be equivalent to one-third of the cultivable land of the Assyrian kingdom, and in the future would be much richer in produce than elsewhere.
But the city of Salem was already in front of them, blocking their advance. Felix took his leading troops and built a fortification at the foot of the mountains and, with the subsequent arrival of personnel, established Enlil City. When the building of Enlil City was fully completed in the future, it would have no problem accommodating nearly a hundred thousand people. But Assyr had not sent its most elite regiments across the plateau to this place merely for the sake of establishing a new city beyond its borders.
The first “treasure” they found after arriving at the Plains of Duc was the Duc town’s mines, which had the best iron ore and the most abundant source of parangons on the continent, both of which were resources that the Assyrian Kingdom desperately needed. The first clash with Salem occurred when Enlil City was still unstable, and since Salem also needed time to develop, the negotiations were successful for the time being.
Now, Enlil City was getting bigger and bigger, and more and more people were arriving. The supplies transported through the Syah Plateau were no longer sufficient to sustain more troops, so they had to advance south and conquer the city of Salem. Occupying the mines was only the first step for starting the war, and it would also serve as a test of Salem’s strength.
In fact, there were many places at the foot of the mountains south of the Syah Plateau which produced fine iron ore, but the Duc mines had the most abundant source of the ore. Furthermore, the Duc mines were already ready for mining and did not require extra efforts to establish new mines. More importantly, the place had the greatest source of parangons on the continent, so they had to obtain it for themselves.
The Duc miners were familiar with the distribution of the veins, good at smelting iron, and possessed the Duc technique required for extracting parangons, passed down the bloodlines over a thousand years. Even if they taught others the skill, none could master it as well as them, so the miners were also a great asset.
Felix was guided by the gods and knew that the surviving miners of Duc would be arriving in Salem. They were the owners of the mines, so they could not be allowed to fall into the hands of Aesop. The best course of action was to capture the most capable of these miners to Enlil City, and if it proved to be impossible, they were to be killed. So Felix sent Koria to take charge of this operation.
Koria was originally in charge of directing the workers to establish the mines. Working in the mines was of course much more difficult than being in the city, and the daily work was boring and monotonous. He was a warrior, and he was eager to kill on the battlefield to achieve merit. His highlander subordinates, although powerful, were also meant for fighting on the battlefield, and not doing hard labor in the mines. After receiving the order from Governor Felix, he was elated to command his soldiers into the jungle, for the awaited war had finally come!
The secret march through the jungle, though treacherous, felt much more exciting than in the mines, and all along the way, the gods were secretly instructing them what route to take and at what time to reach which location. They indeed found the Duc miners quite accurately, and they saw these people in rags, just setting up camp and praying in a magnificent tent, surrounded by only a dozen or so armor-clad soldiers with their warhorses tied to a nearby tree.
Koria felt like a man favored by the gods, as if he could already see the outcome of the fight, killing all the opposing soldiers, women and children, and bringing the strongest miners back to Enlil City. When the war was won, he would be able to use his merits to gain territory in this new rich territory and become a great noble with a title.
Koria, with his men in formation, stopped in front of the camp and was waiting for the other side to surrender on their own accord. A dozen soldiers mounted their horses but did not dare to charge into battle. Instead, they surrounded the tent in the camp, where there were people inside praying. Were they praying to their gods to save them?
Koria was surprised to see the group of ragged miners stand up again, holding a random assortment of weapons such as machetes, hammers, clubs, and so on, before walking out of the camp in formation. At the front of the line were twelve men with crude iron staffs shaped like branches, followed by more than thirty sturdy men.
Koria could not help but want to laugh. Were these people wearing shabby clothes and holding shabby weapons going out to fight in a battle looking like beggars? Had they gone so mad that they would attempt to fight the highlander warriors under him? Koria had two mages in his group, and he himself was so strong that he was far more powerful than the average advanced warrior in battle. In fact, he felt that he alone was more than enough to kill all these people.
Of course, not all of them can be killed, most of them have to be taken back as prisoners of war. Golier wanted to give them a show of his prowess so that they would quietly surrender, so he walked to the open field with a huge saber, pointed across the street, and said with a cold smile: “You sinners, if you put down your weapons and come back with me, I promise to treat the useful miners as mercifully as possible, but if you try to resist, only death awaits!”
As he finished speaking, he swung the heavy saber in his hand around in the air twice, the terrifying huge blade producing a sharp whistling sound with a faint light. In the hands of this giant, it seemed as easy as waving a feather.
Facing Koria, Othniel said without expression: “You are the one who’s going to die!”
The miners of Duc had experienced too much suffering, and now that they were about to reach their hometown, they encountered the enemy yet again. Fighting a battle head-on for the first time, their anger finally erupted. There were a total of more than sixty Ducians, of which more than forty were young and strong miners, and their combat strength was no less powerful than the highlanders. Furthermore, the twelve Judges had practised the power of the two sides and were advanced warriors and mages at the same time. They did not fear this battle at all, since they have yet to have a chance to demonstrate their strength!
Koria, however, was unaware that he was facing twelve advanced mages who had mastered advanced body arts at the same time. In a regular battle, no mage would move in front of a warrior. He was all ready to stride forward and use his giant blade to cut several people in two while blowing away the rest with an explosive impact, thinking that the miners behind them would then give up without a fight.
However, just as Koria swung his blade and Orthenar gave a battle cry, a child suddenly rushed out from the miners’ ranks and shouted: “My god will show his might!” Before the words were out of his mouth, he popped a flat round stone from the leather pouch on his shoulder.
The boy was David Solomon. Being the youngest, Othniel had left him in the tent with a dozen other non-combatants such as Joshua and Moses’ maid. While Othniel led the miners to steadily meet the enemy, David suddenly burst out of the crowd and rushed forward.
Othniel hurriedly shouted: “David, come back!” But David had already struck.
Koria saw David, and so did the soldiers a few dozen paces behind him. They laughed loudly, and none of them took David seriously. David was just a child who was not even wearing leather armor. He had a foot-long hunting knife strapped to his waist but the weapon he was using right now was a simple slingshot that could be used to shoot small stones. Such a weapon can of course be used to kill during a battle, but in the hands of David, it was like a child’s toy.
Koria casually turned his blade, wanting to use the thick back of the blade to bounce the stone back towards David, to teach this foolish child an unforgettable lesson. However, as soon as he flipped his wrist and swung his sword, he heard the mage behind him shout, “Captain, watch out!”
The stone launched by the slingshot flew through the air, and normally its speed would gradually decrease until it fell to the ground. David was about twenty paces away from Koria, but when the stone was about to be hit by Koria’s blade, it strangely accelerated all of a sudden. Koria only felt a blur in front of his eyes, and the flying stone passed through the blade as if through the air.
The stone obviously could not pass through the blade, this was the result of using the spatial shift acceleration technique, a typical advanced magical technique used as support. The two mages sensed the magical energy fluctuations, but it was already too late. The round stone suddenly turned into a lightning bolt dazzling with white light, and Koria lowered his head as fast as he could to dodge it, but he was too tall and the white light hit his forehead!
With a dull bang, the stone instantly exploded into smithereens, and a large part of Koria’s forehead caved inwards. The blade in his hand fell to the ground, and his huge body fell backward. His skull was truly tough, that the stone did not pierce through it, but it was unknown whether he was dead or alive at this point.
David was extremely agile, and at the same time that he fired the stone, he darted forward, jumping straight towards Koria’s body. He pulled out his hunting knife, and with a swift slicing motion, he cut off the giant’s head. The giant soldiers let out a shout of surprise before throwing their spears at him, while the two mages raised their staffs and conjured a sea of flames in the air which headed towards the child.
The twelve Judges were dumbfounded, but they immediately raised their iron staffs and rushed over. A fog of ice accompanied by a gust of wind appeared, dispersing the sea of fire in front of David, and as though they had planned, the twelve Judges each threw a stone the size of a pebble at the same time. The target of the attack was clear, it was the two mages in the opposing battle formation.
These stones buzzed with immense power as they flew through the air, and the two mages hurriedly turned their staffs. A wall of earth instantly sprang up in front of them, and the warriors on both sides also rushed forward and swung their weapons to block the flying stones.
These warriors had disguised as hunters when they entered the forest, so they did not carry heavy shields with them. A stone hit a giant warrior’s weapon, and the powerful impact turned the weapon into dust and sent the giant flying. One of the stones cracked the wall of earth, and before the mage could repair it, the next stone smashed the earth wall into a cloud of dust. Following that, the subsequent stones pierced through the cloud of dust and hit the mages. They cried out in pain before exploding in a mist of blood, and the two mages were killed on the spot.
Stone-throwing was a game played by the miners in Duc since childhood, the lives of miners were monotonous and there was no entertainment, so the children erected a stone pillar in the ground and threw stones at it from a distance, where the one who could knock down the opponent’s stone pillar first would win the game. As a result, Ducians were about to throw stones very accurately and very far. And in the hands of the twelve Judges who had trained the power of the two sides, this game of throwing stones from childhood had become a powerful combat skill.
By this time David had lifted Koria’s head by the hair, and as he stood over the giant’s body, he lifted Koria’s head high in the air and shouted: “God give us victory!”
The twelve Judges rushed into the battle formation of giant warriors, which had descended into panic, and quite a number of them even turned and ran. Their opponents were too terrifying, a mere child had taken out their leader Koria before the battle had even begun, and then the two mages were killed in action. The miners, who had been weak and useless in their eyes, now seemed to have become the most terrifying monsters in the world, and once the formation was disrupted and morale was lost, the battle could not be fought.
The twelve Judges were like tigers jumping into a flock of sheep, their iron staffs shining with a dazzling light. With an explosion of energy, the giant warriors blocking at the front fell to the ground. By the time the miners at the rear rushed forward with hammers and machetes, the battle was already over. Among the hundred giant warriors, more than thirty had fallen, and the rest escaped into the dense forest like frightened birds.
Othniel shouted: “Divide into four teams, every three Judges take eight miners with them to search for the enemy soldiers, we can not let them escape with the news of this battle! …Captain Decker, please stay behind and protect the camp! …David, where did David go?”
In just a moment’s work, David had chased those fleeing giant warriors into the dense forest. Othniel commanded again: “Whoever sees David, tell him to hurry back, the sky is turning dark! It’s dangerous to go into the dense forest alone to chase those giants!”
Today’s encounter was a great victory. David took the lead in the battle, and even the twelve Judges did not know that the young David had such a great ability. Moses did not hold a power awakening ceremony for him, so who taught him? As they chased the fleeing giants through the wilderness, the Judges used detection magic to search for movement on all sides. In the darkness of the night, within this overgrown wilderness, they could not run far.
The miners pursued them through the mountains and fields all night and found nearly seventy giant warriors, more than twenty of whom had been decapitated in their resistance, leaving the remaining thirty or so as prisoners. When they pressed these captives back into camp, David had not returned. Everyone was a little worried as there were still more than twenty escaped giant warriors who had not been caught, would the boy be in danger?